Banish bigotry from our land

Our nation has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent times because of its racial problems.

Our nation has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent times because of its racial problems.

It is important to note that racism is not a new phenomenon in South Africa but was inherited from our apartheid history.

That our apartheid past continues to haunt us was made poignantly clear at the Human Rights Commission's hearing into racism on Wednesday.

The hearing was sparked by the exclusion of white journalists from the inaugural meeting of the Forum of Black Journalists two Fridays ago.

Inevitably, many people saw the probe into the conduct of the FBJ as a welcome opportunity to pour their hearts out and vent their frustrations about the lot of black people in South Africa.

The platform also exposed those whites in attendance to the depth of anger at the privileged lives they enjoy, thanks to the historic dispossession of the black majority.

The FBJ has, in a strange way, succeeded in helping us attempt to confront our racial demons. But the platform also showed just how some black people are unwilling to do their bit for reconciliation.

They, in their anger , fail to appreciate their status as free men and women.

Their bigotry leads them to resort to derogatory labels to describe other black people who understand that the purpose of our struggle was not to perpetuate racial divisions.

They dismiss as "coconuts" blacks who, like our government, are committed to nation-building and the ideal of an egalitarian society.

The hurtful term infers that such people are black on the outside but aspire for whiteness.

Now, there is an equally insulting term that racist whites use to describe fellow whites who refuse to buy into the doctrine of white supremacy.

They call whites who they, for example, deem to be "too friendly" with blacks kaffirboeties .

Fortunately, though, such terms as "coconut" and kaffirboetie are the forte of the race-obsessed lunatic fringe in our country and have no currency in the rest of decent society.

It is our hope that people who still use such derisive and divisive terms will finally see the error of their ways, sooner rather than later.